How did I come to lead a Creative Life? Was it by accident? Was it genetic? Or was I led to this kind of life by some grand design?
I have no answers except to say that being lucky enough to find inspiration has a lot to do with it.
Inspiration is a lot like flowers. You can go for days without seeing any flowers and then all of a sudden, you turn an unknown corner and find an enormous, grassy field covered in red and purple, or instead, you find one forgotten, dirty-pink bloom by the side of the road. Sometimes one blossom is all it takes. One tiny spark of inspiration can be enough to create a masterpiece.
When I was a child, there was an endless stream of smiling elderly relatives who came to visit without bringing gifts. Instead they brought stories. When they weren’t visiting, they were traveling and they told me about places I could hardly imagine: Russia, Lapland, Persia. They talked about their misadventures, and it always seemed to me that the worst mishaps made the best stories, the kind that had everyone laughing.
In winter, my great-aunt Ruth and I used to sit in the old fashioned parlor by the fire and compose poetry in our heads. We played with Haiku as if it was a game but the game was over when the fire burned out. We never wrote anything down. Like the fire, our poems lived for only one evening.
On days when no one was visiting, my mother would sit me outside on the front steps alone and lock the heavy front door. I had nothing to do and no one to talk to, so I made up stories in my head. I imagined all the places I had only heard of and planned my future travels. My imagination was my best friend.
Later I wrote and painted and sang and danced. No one told me that the Creative Life was fraught with perils like poverty and rejection. But I discovered I could get used to anything. I waited until I was nineteen to start traveling. I worked my way around the world as a teacher and journalist. And that’s when I discovered that my greatest inspirations came from the exotic, the unusual and anything I didn’t fully understand. I dabbled in philosophy and religion, mythology and the erotic. Like a thirsty child, I drank it all in. I found my rich fields of flowers and my forgotten lonely blooms.
The Creative Life is not an easy one and I’m not sure if mine is an accident or not, but I can say that my life is filled with ten million lucky sparks of inspiration. And somehow that is reward enough.